Nearly all prefectures shut schools over virus outbreak
Japan Today -- Mar 03
Nearly all prefectures began shutting schools Monday in a bid to prevent the further spread of the coronavirus in Japan, four days after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe surprised many with a request for schools to be closed countrywide until early April.

As confusion spread among many local authorities across Japan, some schools held their final classes or left facilities open for children who cannot stay home alone while their parents are at work.

More than 960 infections have been confirmed in Japan, with Ehime Prefecture reporting its first case Monday -- a woman in her 40s. The tally includes more than 700 people who were aboard the Diamond Princess, a cruise ship that was quarantined near Tokyo.

According to the Ehime prefectural government, the woman, who works for a local bank, is not displaying symptoms such as fever or coughing. She visited a music venue in Osaka in mid-February, where a few others had tested positive for the virus.

Shimane in western Japan, one of the prefectures not to have any reported cases of the virus, is the only prefecture to say it will not yet close schools.

Abe announced the school closure plan last Thursday, calling for them to remain shut through the end of the spring break in early April when the new school year starts in Japan. The education ministry subsequently issued the request to local education boards.

The prime minister said parents who need to take time off and look after their children until schools start the new academic year will receive financial support.

On Monday, the health ministry said it will provide a subsidy for firms that created their own paid leave systems over the outbreak and made parents with children attending elementary and special schools or children suspected of being infected with the new coronavirus take leave.

By paying up to 8,330 yen a day per worker for paid leave between Feb 27 and March 31, the ministry hopes to help companies compensate workers for income losses.

The Cabinet Office also decided that the subsidy payment for working parents using babysitters will be raised from a monthly maximum of 52,800 yen to 264,000 yen for the whole of March.

News source: Japan Today
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